On May 21st The National Park Trust is celebrating their 6th annual Kids to Park Day, a national day promoting outdoor play. In honor of this anniversary, they have partnered with Baby Bjorn for the release of their new baby carrier: Baby Carrier One Outdoors. Being the new dad in the Modern Hiker team, I was fortunate to give this new carrier a test drive. This was my first experience with a Baby Bjorn carrier, having previously used other company’s carriers.
The Baby Bjorn Carrier One Outdoors is made of four materials: 100% Polyamide for the Main Fabric; 100% Polyester for the Mesh Fabric; 100% Cotton for the Cover of the Leg Position Zip; and 100% Polyurethane for the Fabric Coating.
Upon removing the carrier from its box, I was pleased to find it enclosed in its own carrying bag. This is a nice touch since a baby carrier not in use tends to resemble a convoluted bird’s nest of straps, fabric, and buckles. Having a neat carrying bag to contain that chaos is a welcome addition.
Removing the carrier from the bag, I became hesitant about one of my initial impressions: weight. The carrier was heavier than any carrier I have used. Not shockingly heavy, but noticeably heavy. However, this may prove to be a boon. The constituent materials favor durability, giving the carrier a great potential for a long-lasting trail-life — perhaps well beyond the age range for which it is intended. The material is also thicker than your average baby carrier, giving it a more stable framework with which to support your baby.
A large proportion of the material is mesh for better airflow. In placing my baby in this heavier carrier, I was actually left with the impression of her feeling lighter. My wife shared this sentiment when she gave it a whirl. My baby’s weight was centered in such a way that it felt evenly dispersed between my shoulders and hips. At the conclusion of a 5-mile hike, this feeling didn’t change, and my body didn’t feel any discomfort or awkwardness. I could’ve kept hiking!
My number one area for criticism with any baby carrier is with the time it takes to adjust. When I get to the trailhead, the last thing I want to do is waste time on adjusting and trying to find some elusive sweet spot. With the Outdoors, I was good to go in less than a minute, and barely needed to tweak anything along the way. It was quite intuitive. My wife and I traded off a few times throughout the hike, which is notable for our disparity in height. I’m 6’4 and she is 5’4. However, we were able to switch off quickly and without each other’s assistance beyond holding the baby.
I appreciated where the shoulder straps fell across my shoulders. They rested at a more direct, vertical configuration, draping themselves a bit closer to the neck. It felt comfortable. More importantly, it opens up free space on your shoulders in case you need to carry an additional shoulderpack, which is very likely if you are planning a hike with a baby all on your lonesome and need to carry further necessities. For our hike I wore my Camelbak on my back and felt no hindrance in doing so. The different shoulder straps didn’t jostle each other for position, and my clipped chest strap met no interference.
Even though we hiked on a hot day, I was never concerned with my baby overheating due to the adequate airflow between us. The mesh inlay separating us gave adequate cushion and didn’t seem to capture residual heat.
On those bouncy portions of the trail, the mild elasticity and give of the shoulder straps provided a steadicam-like stability to the baby. Her head, neck, and body never rocked too drastically, nor bounced too jarringly against my chest.
The addition of a pouch on the waist-strap was also welcome. Whether you carry a small camera, snacks, sanitizer, or other hiking goodies, it provides easy access to anything you may wish to store in it. I carried my point-and-shoot camera in it, which I reached for often. The shoulder straps also include two elastic loops for attachables in case you wanted more stuff with you on the trip.
Now, despite such a glowing assessment, there are a couple of areas of concern. The cotton material in the leg position area is in question in regards to water-resistance. Living in the Pacific Northwest, water-resistance is something I definitely have to consider in all my gear. I know certain materials have undergone a moisture-resistant foam treatment, but am unsure whether the cotton portion is included in that.
When I ran this section under some water to test it out, it did retain the water, but it also dried quickly. This is less irksome when the leg position is zippered closed in the wide-leg position, closing off the cotton from external exposure. The other area of concern is where the safety buckle rests. Being the bottom connector of the shoulder strap, the safety buckle meets with a lot of pressure right atop the baby’s ribcage. I kept placing my finger between trying to feel if it was too constrictive … but this could be chalked up to a new parent’s over-concern. My wife didn’t seem to mind, nor did the little hiker!
Ultimately, there is one person whose opinion matters most, and that is the baby. Being the least intelligibly communicative member of our hike, I had to rely on my baby’s body language and gobbledygook to ascertain her opinion. For the majority of the hike, except the final portion in which she slept, my baby kicked joyfully, hummed, sang, blew raspberries, and smiled. She never got fussy nor protestive. And when she slept, she slept deeply.
Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier One Outdoors
- Pros: Solid construction, good airflow, extra space for storage, easy swapping between carriers, happy hiking babies
- Cons: Weight, some areas may hold water
- Best For: Getting kids outdoors
- MSRP: $259.95